The other day I was driving home from my day job and watched an unknown vehicle cut off the poor, anonymous driver behind the wheel of another. For some reason, that cool disregard for the consequences to the victim brought something very different to mind. I thought of certain individuals one can often find within on-line writing communities. There are those everywhere who consistently put down the efforts of others and I think they’re a little like that reckless driver.
Sometimes a slight is presented as some sort of vaguely stated “constructive” criticism. The critic might try to tell the author that what he or she penned is somehow wrong. Is there a correct verb tense or point of view? I think not. Most aspects of storytelling are not good, bad, right, or wrong. Outside grammar, and sometimes not even that according to more experimental stylists, the choices are spawned by societal fashion and individual taste.
But why do I compare these persons to rude drivers? Sometimes, fellow travelers, it’s because they simply want your car out of the way! “Get off the road,” they would say if they realized their own true intent. It’s what I want to tell the driver who adds precious minutes or even seconds to my short commute. “Get out of my way!”
These folks might be stuck with writer’s block or face some form of rejection that has hurt their pride. This critic might unconsciously want others to suffer, as well. Others might have some superior notion that they are better and should be teaching others how to “drive” even though they lack the credentials. Some aggressors might careen through traffic leaving accidents in their wake in the form of defeated writers who end up believing they don’t have the talent. I believe that there are many gifted people who fear rejection to the point of eventually just leaving their car in the garage.
This makes me sad. Writing is a vehicle that needs to be driven or it rusts and falls apart. For me, it’s the best, fastest, and safest way to travel outside myself for a time. And if I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll connect with likeminded acquaintances through my story. I’ve found enough kindly souls encouraging me to make more of these ventures. These friends fuel my tank and help map out new places for me to go. And each of us reacts slightly differently to the road rage crowd that can dent our ego if we let them.
Some us might be fearless behind the wheel of our tank-like SUV and not worry so much about what the other driver intends. These people power over or maneuver around obstacles that lie in the direction they want to go. On the other hand, the same pothole might wreck someone in an economy car.
That poor lad or lass gripping the wheel of a tiny sedan can feel fragile and intimidated by aggressive drivers that hog the road and only care about their own destination. That soul might wisely take a different route rather than risk being driven off the road.
I think I’m somewhere in-between. I’ve got a powerful engine and sit comfortably surrounded by lots of airbags in my sporty little roadster. What about you?
Wherever you’re at in my silly analogy, I wish you a safe and pleasant journey. Maybe we’ll travel together for a stretch!